Opinion no. 91-21
November 12, 1991
RE: CONTRIBUTION TO A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated September 19, 1991
In your inquiry you ask whether you may attend a dinner dance sponsored by a political organization known as Voters Coalition of Palm Beach County. There is a $27.50 contribution to attend, a portion of which is used to cover dinner expenses, with the remaining used to promote the purposes of the organization. These purposes include the endorsement of candidates for various political offices.
The committee unanimously expressed the view this proposed activity violates Canon 7 (A) (1) (C) which prohibits a judge from contributing to a political organization. Since the group actively backs specific issues and candidates, attendance at such an affair may also be perceived as a public endorsement by the judge of a particular candidate or issue . Finally, the judge's attendance and participation in this event could cause persons to question his or her impartiality.
The committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges 327 So2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
With regards, I remain,
Yours very truly,
Jere Tolton, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Tolton , Green , Booth , Dell , Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing, and Clarke, Esq.
All reference to the inquiring judge is deleted from the copies sent to the following individuals.
Mr. Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida
Judson Orrick, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Walter K. Stapleton, Chairman, Ethics Advisory panel of the Judicial Conference of the United states .
Cynthia Grey, Director, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Ms. Joan D. Cannon, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
William D. Wilkinson, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. . Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Esq. Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial circuit
Office of state Court Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education